Lab Spotlight

Argonne’s Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA)

Dept. of Energy

Argonne National Laboratory

A polarizing laser beam splitter—part of the magneto-optical atom trap at the heart of the Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA) instrument developed at Argonne. ATTA is a highly selective laser-based atom counting method used to detect two long-lived isotopes, 85Kr and 81Kr, in environmental samples of groundwater and ice to determine their ages in the range from ten to one million years. The TRACER Center at Argonne employs ATTA to serve the dating and tracer needs of hydrogeologists, geochemists, geologists, water management entities, and others around the globe.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary research center where scientists and engineers work together to answer the biggest questions facing humanity—from how to obtain affordable clean energy to protecting ourselves and our environment. Researchers at Argonne, which is located just outside Chicago, regularly work with experts from industry, federal agencies, and academia.

Lab Spotlight